Experts believe 2020 will be a crucial year for SEO trends. In 2019, search intent dominated the headlines. Voice search, augmented reality, and virtual reality also became hot topics of discussion. A lot of exciting things are happening in SEO, and this is only the beginning of change.
If you want to get ahead in the game, you need to keep up with the latest SEO trends. Here is a quick update on what’s been brewing.
Last week, Google pre-announced their first core update for 2020. From health and finance to travel, all sectors are seeing a huge change in terms of SERP results.
Risk Index by Rank Ranger is a tool that can help you monitor the ranking fluctuations for various keywords. Since the January 2020 Core Update was rolled out on January 13, their graph shows a lot of spikes. So, what does it mean? Many keywords are fluctuating simultaneously.
Rank volatility has increased across industries. However, according to their data analysis, niches related to Your Money Your Life (YMYL) are the most significantly impacted.
“YMYL” refers to those websites that include information that can affect a reader’s safety, health, happiness, or financial stability if presented deceptively or inaccurately.
Google’s latest SEO update is not limited to a specific region but will be rolled out around the world. Currently, it is still being rolled out to different data centers. Additionally, it’s affecting mobile as well as desktop searches.
Every time Google updates their algorithm, your site can fare better than before or your rankings can tank. Being proactive and following the latest updates and SEO trends is the key to developing a successful SEO strategy.
With so many changes taking over the SEO landscape, it can be confusing to know how to proceed with your SEO strategy in 2020.
If you are wondering what your next step should be and which SEO trends are important, I’ve got something to inspire you.
Here is an expert roundup post in which experts reveal which SEO trends you can bank upon. They’re tried-and-tested methods that have helped them earn more revenue.
Let’s take a look at the best SEO trends and strategies that have helped these experts get better ranking in the SERPs.
Note: This roundup has been structured in alphabetical order, and not according to expertise.
Exposure in non-search channels drives awareness which boosts performance in organic search.
If we had to choose only one SEO trend that made a difference to our traffic and revenue, then this would be structured data markup and rich snippets optimization. We’ve reviewed all our pages that had a first-page ranking and optimized their content for Google’s featured snippet and rich snippets.
These are the steps we followed:
These simple steps increased our organic traffic without generating new content. Google started giving special attention to schemas and structured data in 2019, and this is something that will also continue (and possibly enriched by introducing more schemas), in 2020.
Our success [last] year has largely stemmed from staying in tune with our audience.
Historically, our content has focused on very specific marketing tactics. Why? Because we cater to marketers.
However, we needed to consider the fact that many people who come to our website don’t know as much about marketing as the average industry professional. In other words, we needed to stop assuming that our audience knew the terminology, platforms, and specific keywords we used in our content.
So we switched it up and focused on tailoring our content to a wide range of audiences.
Our current strategy focuses on broader topics or areas of interest, which has been a trending tactic in the SEO community.
We also started answering questions we knew potential customers might have.
For example, “What is Digital Marketing?” might seem like a no-brainer to us, but we’re the ones teaching it. We had to take a step back and look at audience intent, which is always important when optimizing content to rank in organic search.
Our strategy typically focuses on “Full-Funnel SERP Domination.”
Basically, we look at search queries at each stage of the buyer journey funnel (Awareness, Interest, Decision, & Action) and then develop content for our clients that targets each of these query-types using a “Hub & Spoke” content model.
So we develop a “Hub” that is an authoritative piece on a topic, then we create pieces interlinked from the Hub piece that focus on niche queries related to the topic. It’s nothing mind-blowing. It just works.
I know the term “Semantic SEO” has been thrown around for ages, so it’s not exactly new but it is most often misunderstood. It’s not about using synonyms in your content. It’s about making your content more in-depth by covering related concepts and entities.
Google is getting better at understanding content quality and semantic research can boost your rankings without the need to invest more time / money in getting links.
I was using Text Optimizer for every content asset research and saw a gradual growth in organic visibility within 4 weeks. I now use it on a daily basis and loving the results!
With Google’s evolution away from a search engine towards a direct answer engine, I’ve found that tapping into this potential can help position my clients as leaders in their niche.
Focusing on well-written and properly targeted Q&A type content has had great results, especially when combined with structured data markup. If a site has a top 5 rank for a given query, using this approach often results in a position zero ranking which drives extra traffic and ensures top billing on SERPs.
With the rise of voice search, there’s untapped potential for websites to implement Speakable markup – especially in combination with FAQPage or QAPage markup. While the monetisation of voice search has yet to be defined, I feel this is a technology it’ll pay to be an early adopter of.
The future of SEO is all about making your website’s content useful and machine-readable.
The FAQ Schema.
While it is one of the hottest trends right now, but you also need to know how to use it properly. The problem here is that while it might help you to rank in a lot of keywords if you work on it, analysis say that it might bring traffic of a website down.
That said, be careful while using FAQ Schema. Find out how to use it as a lead generation for your web site and eventually it will help convert the traffic you will receive to new leads.
Studying Google’s perceived query intent based on closely reviewing the search results is VERY important. If Google thinks the best result for a keyword are informational results (versus, say, transactional), they are only going to post informational pages. No matter how much you want your transactional page there, it isn’t going to happen. So adjust your thinking. Try to rank pages that have a chance and make that traffic work for you. Go with the grain.
Also, search entity optimization. I see it doing a heck of a lot more than just keywords alone.
If these two items aren’t part of your SEO approach, you need to get caught up because I don’t believe Google is going away from these models anytime soon.
The Evergreen Content Strategy! We create evergreen pieces of content that can consistently be updated over time (i.e. guides, statistics pages, etc.).
But constantly adding new information and updating the publish date, Google sees the content as being fresh and it helps with rankings. Every company should have at least a couple evergreen content pieces as a part of their SEO strategy!
There’s been a lot of discussion the past couple years regarding answer boxes and featured snippets. Is Google stealing our content? Do we even want to be in them? My answer here (to both questions) is absolutely!
Getting client sites into answer boxes and PAA boxes has been a major win for us over the past few years. It’s led to significant increases in traffic and leads and has allowed us to capture visibility for competitive terms in our markets.
And while featured snippets can come and go, with Moz reporting 25% of SERPs using snippets (64% with PAAs), there’s always a new opportunity.
The highest impact action item successfully applied at our agency was content upgrades.
We improved existing content to better answer consumer intent. We also re-arranged the order in many cases, so that intent was primarily answered at the beginning (with the rest of the content acting as a supplement).
Readability was enhanced through the use of more imagery, as well as items such as JS charts, video, sub-headers, and lists. Lastly, content was typically expanded to include more substantive information.
Most agency owners are focused on producing new articles and more subject matter. Our approach was different: we chose not to write more, but rather to concentrate on writing better.
It’s one thing to rank in the top 10 of search results. However, if you’re not optimizing to increase your click-through rate, you are leaving money on the table.
Typically your listing is up against so much more than 10 other search results. Depending on the search, you could be up against map listings, paid ads, featured snippets, etc.
I’ve found good success with my clients by making sure the title of the page invokes the searcher to take action on it. Whether they are searching for tips or for a product, making your page title align with their search and nudge to take action works well.
It’s important to also pay attention to your meta description. While Google may choose to ignore it at times, you want to be sure that it describes the benefit the searcher will get by clicking on your result.
In the end, when you generate a higher click through rate not only do you end up getting more traffic than you would have otherwise, but a higher click through rate can also help increase the position that you rank for.
Focusing more on search intent and optimizing each piece of content according to the search intent of the user.
There are about 3.5 billion searches per day. And Google has to figure out what exactly do people want, so it can offer them the search engine page results they need. And your job is to create content that is relevant to the Google users and matches their search intent.
If the keywords you want to rank for have clear and consistent intent behind them, you can tailor your content format and structure to be the best possible match for that intent.
A search for “how to make tiramisu” already has the clue in the title it’s likely going to be a “how to” type of article that’s going to draw attention and given the context, a blog is probably the best type of page to host this content.
On the other hand, with a search like “iPhone 10 vs Samsung Galaxy 10,” you would fully expect for the first page of results to be filled with comparative review type pages from specialized review websites.
But aside from the format and structure of the page holding the content, there might also be an angle to it, which is similar to the USP (unique selling proposition) in marketing.
You might be looking for how to make tiramisu, but wouldn’t you prefer to know how to make the best one? or the most original one? Sure, you’re looking for headphones, but are you interested in the best quality headphones or the cheapest headphones? And the list goes on.
When it comes to format and structure, you want to go with the flow and do what everybody else does, because that is what has been proven to get results (search results, to be more exact).
However, when it comes to the angle, that’s your time to be original. Format and structure land you on the front page. Angle can influence which position in the rankings you’ll show at.
I’ve used blog content, social networks, videos, events, digital and offline advertising to build brand awareness over many years.
In the early stages, I would simply display our logo on display network with a minimalist set of ads and zero call-to-action as I didn’t want anyone clicking on it anyway, just wanted to get the impressions.
From brand recognition, I gradually transitioned towards having a certain “flavor” as a brand and eventually witnessed the magic of brand advocacy.
The effect was visible in several instances during controversial events when people jumped to defend Dejan Marketing as a brand, without being asked to do so (examples include: https://dejanmarketing.com/competitor-hack/ and https://dejanmarketing.com/hijack/).
How does this help SEO?
Brand recognition is a major driver of better CTR so I end up getting more clicks from the same rank. Another great effect of being a well-known brand is that links tend to happen naturally.
Even when you make an effort to create a link, it’s so much easier than working with an incognito brand.
I have to say I am far from “dominating” Google’s results. The competition is strong and spammy tactics still work in many cases. This is one of the downsides of having a strong brand reputation, you tend to hesitate to experiment and try risky things.
Sometimes I miss the old days. Maybe I should have a new startup.
100% rich and high-quality content. Always.
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, content marketing, and SEO. He is the Co-Founder of Attrock, a digital marketing agency. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.